Glory O’Brien’s mother killed herself when Glory was four years old, and Glory fears she’s headed for the same demise. The high school senior feels isolated from everyone at her school, people she perceives as normal and happy. Since her mother’s death, her father has ballooned to double in size, and he has given up painting. When Ellie, Glory’s one friend (who lives across the road in a commune), gets crabs from her secret boyfriend, the girls decide to cheer up by drinking beer under the stars. They eventually decide to drink the dehydrated powdered remains of a bat they discovered months earlier and stored in a jar (Why they decided to do this is still a bit of a mystery to me. Drunk?) The bat cocktail has the profound effect of causing them to view the past and future of any person they make eye contact with. This leads Glory to wrestle with her own past, present, and future as she determines what life has in store for her.
While initially bewildered by why they would even think of drinking the bat, I liked this book more than I expected. Glory’s visions of the future reminded me of a cross between The Handmaid’s Tale, Legend, and The Hunger Games, and I liked how what she saw of her future helped her determine her present path. Through Glory, A.S. King offers insights into how we see the world and the world sees us. She also presents an engaging feminist critique of the roles foisted upon girls by our society.